When we first learned about this week’s recipe, excitement did not immediately set in. The first thought that came to mind was, oh my gosh, the dreaded fruit cake. You know the kind, the loaf that requires countless hours to prepare, and because of the ensuing guilt on the recipient’s part, gets re-gifted about ten times. Sad in a way, because the one preparing it, no doubt, has invested a lot of energy and love in preparing it, even if the one receiving it, does not share this enthusiasm. Our sincere apologies to all of you that are true “fruit cake aficionados.” So many people seem to really enjoy this kind of bread/cake, but not so much in our own family. Fruit cake has always been too rich, way too sweet and very heavy, not to mention, quite expensive to prepare. We just never cared for it. But, thankfully, upon closer examination, this recipe appeared to be much easier on the amount of dried fruit and nuts it called for.
After having recently been “glutened” (accidental exposure to gluten) at a local restaurant that we had frequented before without any ill effects, but which since, unbeknownst to us, changed cooks, we were not too keen on anything baked, especially since this recipe calls for a yeasted dough. For those of you who are unfamiliar with gluten intolerance, even the slightest cross-contamination, such as food sharing the same prep-surface, grill, etc., can pose a huge problem, resulting in extreme digestive issues, skin reactions, foggy thinking, reduced immunity and many other problems. The previous chef at this restaurant, was very sensitive and familiar with this issue, and always made sure our food was prepared separately. Not this time. Lesson learned; never assume anything. Even if you have been to the same restaurant a hundred times, remember to always ask each time before ordering anything. The risk is just too great. We are on the mend, and feeling much better now.
Because of this gluten exposure, we did not want to make our recipe with yeast, since this has posed a problem in the past, and we did not want to further aggravate an already bad situation. As a result, since we are already altering all of our recipes into gluten free ones, we took the liberty of also removing the yeast, and using baking powder instead. Unsure, how this dough would rise, with only baking powder and the large addition of dried fruit and nuts, we chose to further alter it by baking the loaf in a bundt cake pan, instead of a bread loaf pan, effectively turning it into a coffee cake. We have prepared many similar recipes in a bundt-type pan in the past, and they always turned out well.
For this recipe, we used a combination of almond, tapioca and rice flour along with a small amount of rice bran and guar gum. Our conversion also required the addition of an extra egg, and since we were unable to find fresh cranberries, we used dried instead.
Our Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin bread took an additional 20 minutes to bake, but turned out very well. It was light in texture, moist, not too sweet and surprisingly, nearly doubled in height in the oven. One great thing about this recipe, is its versatility. You really could substitute a truly endless amount of different fruit and nuts. Perhaps, some dried ginger, pineapple, or coconut? For those of you that are sensitive to nuts, they could be eliminated altogether, or even substituted with sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds.
Our verdict: A solid thumbs up for this recipe. Everybody loved it. Our thanks to Rebecca at This Bountiful Backyard for hosting this week. If you are looking for the original recipe, please visit her beautiful blog. As always, you can check out all of the other TWD participants’ versions of this recipe at TWD’s site.